A few thoughts on the value of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, 15 October 1836, p. 166, columns 2-3:—
[At the moment, we’re short of events for the 5th of this month.]
Ought the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism to be used in Sabbath Schools; and if so, to what extent?
We have seldom heard a more eloquent eulogium on the Catechism, than was elicited in the discussion. All seemed ready and anxious to speak in its praise. We can give only a few disconnected sentences from our notes.
What is the Catechism? An epitome of all the great truths and distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel. He who learns that, has the substance of the Old and New Testaments. No book, except the Bible, is so near perfection. Those who have done most to bless the world, have loved the doctrines just as they are taught in the Catechism. The Puritans came to these shores to cherish these doctrines. “But,” says one, “it is no use to teach children what they cannot understand.” All past experience shows that tis is not true. They must be tuaght things which they cannot understand. I owe more, said the speaker, to my knowledge of these doctrines, as tuaght in that manual, than to my three years’ study in the Theological Seminary. There is a great deal of thought in the Catechism; more than in some of our libraries.
I was once, said another speaker, taught the Catechism, and I never think of these truths without the tenderest recollection of my parents, now in heaven.
I have reason to bless the God of heaven, (said the moderator, probably the oldest Minister present) that I was taught that sytstem of doctrine while I was almost in the arms of my mother. When I grew up so as to compare it with the Bible, I found there was a unison. My old Minister used to teach it at the close of the common school. Then we were called orthodox. That man is now sleeping with his fathers. A new set of Ministers have arisen, who have discarded the Catechism, and now but few can be found in that place, who hold the doctrines as there taught.
Words to Live By:
Perhaps you’ve been so blessed as to have memorized the Shorter Catechism when a child, or perhaps even in later years. If that hasn’t been your experience, may I urge you to at the very least take up the practice of reading it on Sunday afternoons? Or you might read through it day by day, one question & answer at a time. Think of the Catechism as a succinct summary of what the Bible teaches. It’s a wonderful help, readily available, and so each to use.